COMIC REVIEW: Ghost #1

Poor Elisa Cameron. She keeps coming back and still doesn’t know who she is. Wearing borrowed clothes, existing between lives and, of course, fighting the bad guys as all good superheroines do.

In Kelly Sue DeConnick’s (Avengers Assemble, etc) latest run of the Dark Horse comic, we jump straight into Ghost’s life (which is refreshing for an issue #1) as she pulls a demon out of a stranger who knows her name.

Ghost, the hero trapped between two worlds, fights to protect Chicago from extradimensional demons disguised as humans. When a familiar stranger destroys an el train, Ghost makes a deal with a devil for the chance to uncover her own mysterious past. The perfect issue to join this action-packed superhero title!

There’s something refreshing about DeConnick’s supernatural superheroine series, though it is something almost intangible. Maybe it’s the writing? Maybe it’s the characters? I don’t think it’s the art, although there is nothing wrong with that in particular. It is co-written by Chris Sebela (Fantastic Four), so maybe there’s something in the mix of writers?

Someone is killing people (and their pets) in Chicago, and the police don’t have a clue. Eyewitnesses claim to have seen a ghost, but the cops aren’t buying it. Well, why would they? Meanwhile, Elisa is back at Tommy and Sloane’s flat. A news report suggests Ghost is an urban legend. Tommy and his friend, Vaughn, who are TV show hosts, are also Elsa’s corporeal assistants. Together, they investigate the life of James Barrow, the dead man who knew Elsa’s name.

So, this is all about identity and finding yourself. Maybe about fitting in. The storytelling portrays this well and you want to keep reading, finding out what is going on as Elsa finds out. The supernatural world DeConnick bases her story in is a little over-familiar – a hint of Hellblazer, a dash of Supernatural. I imagine it would be very hard to write a ghost and demon story without nods to other existing mythologies. It is also very cool to read a superheroine comic where there aren’t endless shots of unfeasible female bodies in tight costumes with cleavage and bums all over the place.

The art is by Ryan Sook (B.P.R.D.: Hollow Earth and others) and it is pretty cool. There are some nice shots of Elsa’s face where you can almost see the emotion in her eyes. There is a great overhead shot panel on page 15 which is simple, yet very effective in its depiction of the office drones. Elsa’s battle with a demon towards the end of the comic is great. The only issue I had with the art is the generally drab tone, due to the colouring, by Dave McCaig (American Vampire and more). I’m not asking for bright colours, but if colours are to be muted, I’d hope for more depth in them, so they contribute to the story in their own right.

DeConnick’s writing is what keeps you interested, at the end of the day. The storyline fizzes along and the dialogue is natural and witty in places. Tommy and Vaughn are pretty dull sidekicks, both in characterisation and how they are drawn, which is a shame. But then the story isn’t at all about them, and they aren’t more than information ciphers for the reader, which is fine. Most stories need these devices to move the plot along.

This isn’t a remarkable or groundbreaking comic, but it is fun and interesting enough. I’d suggest that if you enjoy a decent supernatural comic with an interesting and refreshing heroine who has balls and depth, Ghost #1 is for you.

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Rating: 3.5/5

Reviewer: Ian J Simpson

 

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